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Some rich men built a Disneyland of yellow brick,
a place for pious patriarchy.
I got a job there.

They followed a blueprint of pretty-campus,
big oak trees and well-paved paths,
carefully de-iced each winter to protect
against lawsuits.
Every building looked like a church
of corporatology, modern and old elements
stacked together. The prettiest
part was a giant cubist mosaic of
their prophet, angles and colors
and design I could get behind, but
they added football stink to it. Still,
I’d look up at Our Lord and Savior, above the
reflecting pool, to rest my eyes from
the rest of the ugly,
while trekking on paths, crossing little roads
closed to the public, passing the
illegally parked cars of priests, going
to meetings, going to teach the children
of patriarchs (some of whom were fighting
the binds they’d been born into,
taking too literally their elders’
instructions to be good.)

As I walked I’d sweat into my professional
costume, my corporate-lady-drag, worry
about the eyes on me, stew on the latest struggle.
The men trying to make me feel stupid
or afraid. The men
angry about my failure (or success) at
acting the part: corporate-lady or
madonna or matron or witch or whore.
How I fit or didn’t fit in their
Catholic cosmology.
No packaging I could offer placated
them for long, and plastic contaminants
were leaching deep into my skin.

I tried to do what I was nominally
hired to do. I tried to grow knowledge trees
and spread their seeds in yellow brick buildings
under oak trees and watchful eyes
of wizards. But the prettiness of that
campus was a fairy tale and I
was a jarring shard of reality
to be spat out.

You drink what they offer you and become
it, body and blood, and if your body
rejects it, if they don’t see it shining
out your ears and eyeballs, if they
hear you throwing up in a bathroom
stall down the hall, they know you’re a
dangerous agent. They made sure to
expel me. The cathedrals keep on ringing
their death knells, plague cult,
oak trees covered in sick, and I’m
free of all of it, healing slowly in its shadow.

Michelle Wirth (they/them) is a trans, nonbinary, genderqueer writer in Madison, Wisconsin. Michelle was long-listed for the 2021 Penrose Poetry Prize; their poems appear in Oroboro magazine. Their hybrid poetry/art zine, Harm Done, co-created with Detroit-based artist Austin Brady, won Best LitZine and Best Overall Zine in the 2022 Broken Pencil Zine Awards. In addition, Michelle has published TV analysis in The Fandomentals, and—in a distant past—a number of peer-reviewed articles about stress and hormones in scientific journals.
Current Issue
22 Apr 2024

We’d been on holiday at the Shoon Sea only three days when the incident occurred. Dr. Gar had been staying there a few months for medical research and had urged me and my friend Shooshooey to visit.
For a long time now you’ve put on the shirt of the walls,/just as others might put on a shroud.
Tu enfiles longuement la chemise des murs,/ tout comme d’autres le font avec la chemise de la mort.
The little monster was not born like a human child, yelling with cold and terror as he left his mother’s womb. He had come to life little by little, on the high, three-legged bench. When his eyes had opened, they met the eyes of the broad-shouldered sculptor, watching them tenderly.
Le petit monstre n’était pas né comme un enfant des hommes, criant de froid et de terreur au sortir du ventre maternel. Il avait pris vie peu à peu, sur la haute selle à trois pieds, et quand ses yeux s’étaient ouverts, ils avaient rencontré ceux du sculpteur aux larges épaules, qui le regardaient tendrement.
We're delighted to welcome Nat Paterson to the blog, to tell us more about his translation of Léopold Chauveau's story 'The Little Monster'/ 'Le Petit Monstre', which appears in our April 2024 issue.
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